When Fiction Follows Fact
History is an amalgamation of experiences, a collection of major and minor narratives. As knowledge is uncovered, narratives undergo changes. With the current spotlight on "fake news" and the post-Truth, how do we trust information, what does that say about the reliability of our sources, and what or who do we choose to believe in? Throughout history, much of our knowledge is recorded through written texts and graphic images. This relationship between text and image is complex, contributing toward the reliability of any narrative. So what happens when a narrative is interrupted? When Fiction Follows Fact is a literal and abstract exploration into the delicate relationship between text and image, and what the passage of time does to our perceptions. How we interpret that relationship influences our views.
The series starts with the Globe Review section of the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper. The Globe Review offers opinions about architecture, dance, music, theatre, visual art and contemporary life. Dating back between 1997 and 2004 these newspapers were initially collected to represent a time capsule of art-related ephemera. As the passage of time is the ultimate amnesiac, stories undergo change. To physically manifest the essence of change, the text for these newspapers underwent a process of editing whereby proper names of people and places were meticulously removed. Furthermore, the images were interrupted by a succession of colourful, geometric shapes and a dense grid of ink lines meant to confound and further obscure the images underneath. The process of painstakingly excising proper names, repetitively laying gridlines of ink and the constellation-like application of coloured dots suggest the glacial passage of time through durational labour, manifesting the materiality of time. After undergoing their respective transformations, a sheet of mirrored paper was laid underneath, reflecting its surroundings and engulfing the viewer in its objective gaze. Since images and texts often complement each other in these types of publications, any interruption frustrates our desire to "get at the full picture". The viewer is then forced to contemplate the narrative through personal opinion and subjective interpretation. Thus metanarratives start to form.
Written essays and pictorial narratives are the mainstay of any printed publication offering a multitude of opinions on a variety of topics. In our society, we often trust the opinions of those who have attained higher levels of achievement in their respective fields. But our so-called experts are as fallible as we are. Ironically, while change is constant, truth is transient. Our fallibility defines our humanity and errors either go unchecked or ignored. Do our errors make for a more interesting narrative? Is truth still relevant?
Truth like utopia is both everywhere and nowhere. Personally, I don't know what to believe anymore. In our troubled and imperfect world, we get a balanced dose of clarity and confusion. There’s a perverse justice in that. As free thinking individuals in a democracy, we have the right to choose what we believe in. So perhaps we shouldn’t mind a bit of interruption in the stories we encounter. After all, isn't ignorance bliss?
Paul de Guzman, January 2018